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Western Michigan University Cooley Law School Blog

Otto Stockmeyer

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The Power of Plain English

January 18

Background. Placing a shareholder proposal in a corporation’s annual-meeting proxy statement is the only practical way for shareholders to communicate with each other about corporate policy. Some years ago, I used the process successfully by drafting a shareholder proposal using plain-English principles. I believe that using plain English made a difference.

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UPDATE: The Uniform Bar Exam

January 14

ALMOST EXACTLY ONE YEAR AGO I blogged about Michigan’s possible adoption of the Uniform Bar Examination (“Will the Uniform Bar Exam Come to Michigan?”). The blog described the exam, its benefits, and Michigan’s slow pace when it comes to such reforms.

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Update: The Liberty Bell Award

December 03

Earlier this year, Distinguished Professor Emeritus Otto Stockmeyer blogged about the liberty bell award. Here's an update.

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Update: Corporate Annual Reports – Plain-Language Progress?

November 21

Last year at about this time, I wrote this in a blog post, “Corporate Annual Reports – Plain-English’s Last Frontier?”

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Distractions and LSAT Test Prep

September 14

Amy Dickinson is a syndicated advice columnist. In a recent installment of “Ask Amy” she responded to a letter from “Chatty-Sister.” Sis complained that her brother, who was living at home while preparing for the LSAT, demands absolute silence in the house when he takes practice tests.

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Note to legal writers: You CAN start sentences with But.

August 27

My colleague Joe Kimble has attempted to refute the common superstition against beginning a sentence with the word "but."

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The Liberty Bell Award Has Michigan Roots

July 31

On May 1 each year, thousands of people and organizations across the nation participate in Law Day, celebrating the role of law in American society. Of the many events that make up Law Day, few capture its spirit as well as a program first developed in our own state, the Liberty Bell Award. The award honors persons or entities outside of the legal profession that have contributed to a greater understanding of our legal system, participated in it to the betterment of their communities, or helped to strengthen and improve the American system of justice.

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Trailblazing Women Chief Justices

May 31

Otto Stockmeyer is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School. This article is from the Spring 2019 issue of The Mentor, newsletter of the State Bar of Michigan Master Lawyers Section. Professor Stockmeyer is a member of the Section Council. His previous blog posts are cataloged here. 

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Corral Those Stray Commas Says WMU-Cooley's Otto Stockmeyer

April 29

Recently I encountered three examples of comma misuse among legal writers. At first I thought the comma faults were random. But then I noticed they had something in common; in each case the comma preceded a verb. The commas create the impression of a runner stumbling midway to the finish line. From a law-school student publication: “May the odds forever, be in your favor.” From a legal newspaper: “And a lot of these kids, were really good players.” From a law-school press release: “[The law school] is committed to pursuing a collaborative approach in working with the Council, to continue meeting ABA standards.”

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Tips For Making A Presentation

March 11

Lawyers are trained to be expert communicators. Yet speaking before a group can be an intimidating prospect for some, whether it’s a civic club luncheon, trade association meeting, or bar association CLE program. Rejoice if you are invited to make a speaking presentation, as there are many ways it can benefit your practice. Here are some tips for making your presentation an effective and impressive one.

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